I’m huge fan of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD) adaption on the internet. It is a modern adaptation of Pride And Prejudice on YouTube. I could easily spend the next few hours telling you why it is awesome and why you should watch it, but i’ll save that for another day. Instead I’m going to focus on only one of the numerous reasons you should watch it – that reason being how it reflects, in it’s fictional world, the reality of cyber bullying.
What I want to talk about is the updated version of Lydia’s downfall. In the books she has to marry Wickham and so on. However, the writers of LBD have stated that that would not be possible in a their adaption because the characters are more fleshed out, as well as modern society attitudes to women being very different compared to the 19th Century. Lydia’s downfall instead of an elopement with the wicked Wickham, is the releasing of a sex tape of them together onto the internet.
What the LBD has done is explore the repercussions on both Lydia and her family. In particular, the effect of getting nasty comments from viewers. (I’m talking about this particular episode, which you should watch.)
I think it is uncomfortable to watch because you can see the person that these nasty comment are aimed at, and how it is having such a negative effect on her. Lydia is no longer just something for someone’s amusement. You can see her being upset by what people are saying. And that is just a fictional character. Now apply that to someone who regularly receives abusive comments via the internet.
There is always some corner of the internet where people are being slated for whatever reason. Whether it is a women being called sluts and whores or a guy who is being bullied for being weird and having no friends, it’s becoming more and more common. But more to the point, it is unacceptable.
What this all comes down to is bullying. Cyber bullying is on the rise. Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online. Even more worryingly 1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using mobile phone cameras. And another uncomfortable statistic is that girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying.
Why are people cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying doesn’t just happen to children and teens – it can happen to anyone. From comments on blogs to YouTube comments to people on Twitter saying the most awful things. Why is this type of bullying on the rise? Is it the anonymity that the Internet can provide? Would we all say such horrible and hurtful things in real life, if we could hide behind a mask? Or is it simply we do not relate text on a screen to a person with feelings? YouTubers can get a lot of people “trolling” them. But realistically, it is simply verbal abuse in writing. Is it because we see these people putting their life on the Internet to entertain us that we forget they are just people like us? Do people on the Internet think that somehow, because the people on YouTube put their lives in the public domain, they have the right to comment on it, and comment harshly?
No one has the moral high ground
I think everyone at some point can look at a comment they have posted online and would feel shame at what they have said. There is a fine line between making a joke about something to nastily mocking them, which is not acceptable. For example, mocking people on Facebook because they post so many baby pictures or because “they can’t even spell”. Well, congratulations to you. You live a different lifestyle to these people, and just because you live different lives does not mean that’s yours is the automatically correct one. Well done, you have received a better level of education than someone else, therefore you have perfect grammar. What do you want- a paper hat?
The truth is. You are no better than someone who spells incorrectly. Because believe it or not, good grammar does not a good person make. I’m pretty sure David Cameron knows what an Oxford comma is AND how to use it. That does not suddenly make him someone worthy of listening to.
People are annoying on Facebook. People are annoying on Twitter. In case you’re so trapped in your social media bubble that you have forgotten, people are annoying in real life too. The truth is, so are you. You have annoying habits. The trick is to understand this and accept people for who they are. Don’t be that jerk that judges others. And more importantly – although you may feel that somehow you have all knowledge on how every person should act and it is your god-given right to tell everyone how they should live their lives – you are actually mistaken.
Don’t inform people that they have annoying habits, because you wouldn’t do that in real life. Say nice things. And if you can’t think of anything nice to say, then don’t say anything. You might not realise this, but what you’re saying (on the internet and in real life), could be seriously offensive and hurt someone’s feelings. Yeah we have all laughed at duck face girl for example, but duck face girl is a still girl with feelings. Feelings that can be hurt by what people say. And we all could do with remembering that.
If you’ve been affected by these issues, check out the cyber bullying section of the Childline website.
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